A Cleft Child Sold at Birth

This is the poignant story of Dev Deka, a cleft lip and palate child born to Pinky Deka of Nalbari district of Assam, on  2nd October, 2012.

Pinky and her husband (name not available) were very depressed and dejected when their child was born with both cleft lip and palate. They came to know about Operation Smile from the local ASHA worker and Pinky brought Dev to the Operation Smile India Guwahati Centre on 25th January 2013. After screening, Dev was enrolled in the “Too Young for Surgery” program at the Centre.

On 4th April, 2013, at 7 months of age, Dev underwent cleft lip surgery successfully. However, his parents had still not reconciled to their child being born with a cleft lip and palate. Due to negligence and lack of care, and also feeding challenges due to the cleft palate, Dev became very malnourished. By the time he became 1 year old, his weight was only 6.80 kg and could not be given surgery for the cleft palate, and was enrolled into the Nutrition Program run by our centre.

On 2nd December 2014 Dev was brought to GC4 by a different couple – Babul and Sonika. Babul Das, a fish vendor of Guwahati, and his wife Sonika had been married for 12 years and had no issue. When Pinky, Dev’s mother, approached Babul and Sonika and offered Dev for adoption or sale, they accepted and took Dev into their family. (They hesitantly acknowledged that “some money” had been paid to Pinky). They also changed Dev’s (Deka) name to Bikram Das.

Bikram, whose cleft palate was still untreated at the time, was very weak and thin. Babul and Sonika started caring for him, but did not realise that the cleft palate required surgery. It was when Bikram fell sick and taken by them to a local nursing home for treatment that they learnt from the Doctor that the palate required surgery. The Doctor advised them to take Bikram to the Operation Smile Centre at MMC Hospital, Guwahati.

On 16th of December 2014, at the age of 2 years 2 months and body weight of 11 kg Bikram Das underwent Cleft Palate surgery successfully. At the time of writing this report, Bikram is blissfully asleep and resting in the post-operative ward, and his foster parents are a picture of delight and happiness.